We just had one of the coolest afternoon/evenings ever. We've done a lot of cool things, but this stands out as unique. Every year, just a short drive from us, there is a big Hot Air Balloon Jubilee. We have wanted to go the past few years, but have been gone. This year we were home, and I was determined not to miss this event. I'm glad! It ended up being so much more than we imagined.
When we first arrived we headed to a tent that had a bunch of carnival games for kids. Each kid was given a punch card. At each game they got their card punched. Once their card was full, they got a prize. Did I mention that one of the "games" was a moon bounce? Did I mention that there was absolutely no charge for anything in the tent? Did I mention that Allie said her favorite part of the day was picking out her prize (that I later lost...mommy fail)? It was pretty awesome.
The baseball toss. Ryan refused to go up to the "little kid" line!
Allie had no problem getting as close as they would allow...and throwing a 2-handed pitch...but she got a pretty good strike...
After the fun games and prizes we hit the playground where we met up with the cousins. We kept the kids occupied there as long as we could before they begged us to go to the main event - the rides! We had scoped out 2 rides we knew the older 3 could ride (we were confident D could do 1, but not sure about the other). We thought we were going to have to wait for the first, but the guy told us there was a 4-seater car open. All the cousins in 1 car?! That's the best photo-op we could hope for!
Getting ready to drive away!
Enjoying the ride :)
I can already picture the 4 of them as teenagers driving off somewhere. Sigh.
Anyways, next was the roller coaster. D ended up not quite being ready for this one, but my kids were crazy excited about this one. Allie has wanted to ride it at the fair the last 2 years. The first year she was too small. Last year it rained and the roller coaster was closed.
pre-ride - Allie was being a total ham.
So. Much. Fun.
I love seeing these two have so much fun together :)
Oh, did I mention that the only thing we had to pay for the entire time was the rides? We found free parking, the event was free, and everything (aside from the rides) was sponsored. Oh, yeah.
After the rides we wandered a bit. Considered the (free) elephant rides. Briefly watched the Piston's Drum Line. Then we headed to find a spot to set up and have a picnic.
Aunt Mindy pushed the entire troupe in her stroller! Arms of steel.
First we picnic'd.
Then we sort of just hung out...
...and hung out some more...
...the time that the balloon flight was supposed to start came and went, and the kids started to get silly...
pretending he was sleeping.
"I'll hold you, Buddy."
Playing "Duck, duck, goose" - which basically became a free-for-all game of tag.
We discovered that the balloon launch was delayed (due to high winds), and we began to have to work harder to keep the kiddos entertained.
Picnic blanket turned parachute.
Picnic blanket swing rides (which may have been the highlight of the evening)!
Tired Allie makes a make-shift chair.
The cousins (one of whom had missed her nap) were getting restless, and the balloons showed no sign of launching, so they decided to pack up and leave. Lucas took a load of chairs to the van, while the twins and I waited to see if there was any chance of seeing the event that was the whole point of our adventure. Just then I heard people cheering. And pointing. I was trying to figure out what was happening at the tree they were all pointing to when I saw this pop up from behind:
A balloon! Yay! We were all so excited! It wasn't long before there was another. Then another.
Pretty soon there were balloons being blown up all around us!
There was so much going on that we hardly knew where to look!
We were so close to some that we could really see everything going on - from blowing up the balloons, to the crews working hard to hold it down while the balloon was blown up over the basket, to the people flying in the basket as it took off!
It wasn't long before they started taking off in bunches. Every balloon brought a cheer from the crowd. Seeing them fly so close, right above your head, was amazing.
It's the Sugar Bear!
We did end up leaving before all of the balloons had launched (we had company coming over and we needed to get home before they arrived), but we still saw enough that we had a complete blast. The twins kept saying how cool it was to see the balloons. I kept talking about how cool it was to see the balloons!
This is definitely an event we will look forward to attending every year from now on!